Bill McKibben’s Misleading New Chemistry

Separating Fact from Fiction in the Fracking Debate

One could be excused for concluding, upon reading Bill McKibben’s latest anti-fracking jeremiad in the Nation, that a new Harvard study released in February has found that US methane emissions over the last decade have risen due to increasing natural gas production.   “This new Harvard data,” McKibben writes, “suggests that our new natural-gas infrastructure has been bleeding methane into the atmosphere in record quantities.”

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The Year of the Good Anthropocene

Top Breakthroughs of 2015

In 2015, the Breakthrough Institute welcomed that debate. In April, several of us co-authored “An Ecomodernist Manifesto,” which states that “knowledge and technology, applied with wisdom, might allow for a good, or even great, Anthropocene.” The theme of our summer Dialogue this year was “The Good Anthropocene,” where Clive Hamilton debated Manifesto coauthor Mark Lynas on our stage. We also released the fifth issue of our Breakthrough Journal, themed “The Good Anthropocene.” 

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Lessons from the Shale Revolution

A Report on the Conference Proceedings

Since 2011, Breakthrough Institute has sought to understand the origins of the shale revolution, primarily for environmental reasons. Cheap shale gas has allowed the US power sector to move away from coal, which has in turn reduced US carbon emissions by more than 10 percent between 2005 and 2013. What lessons could the shale revolution have for future energy transitions, whether to solar, nuclear power, electric cars, or fuel cells? How can public and private energy innovation efforts achieve future technological breakthroughs that are similarly disruptive?

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Did the US Kill OPEC?

Why We Should Pay the Shale Revolution Forward

"Did the US kill OPEC?"

This is the question that New York Times economics columnist Eduardo Porter asks today, referencing Breakthrough Institute’s research, which found that 35 years of public-private investments led to the technologies that allow for the cheap extraction of natural gas and oil from shale.

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Interview with William Burnett, Formerly of the Gas Research Institute

The Gas Research Institute's Evolving Role in Shale Gas

Continuing Breakthrough Institute’s series of in-depth interviews with pioneers of the shale revolution, Senior Energy Analyst Alex Trembath talked with William Burnett. William worked in energy R&D for the US Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, and Gas Research Institute (GRI). He retired from GRI as Executive VP, where he was responsible for R&D planning and management in natural gas supply, transportation, distribution, and utilization.

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Interview with Bob Hanold, Formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory

On the Partnership Office Between Los Alamos and Sandia

Continuing Breakthrough Institute’s series of in-depth interviews with pioneers of the shale revolution, Senior Energy Analyst Alex Trembath talked with Bob Hanold, formerly of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Bob completed his PhD in engineering science at Case Institute of Technology and accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1966, where he worked until his retirement in 1999. Although initially involved in microseismic fracture mapping and hydraulic fracturing for geothermal projects, he transitioned entirely to oil and gas projects with the formation of the Partnership Office.

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The Year of Our High-Energy Planet

Top Breakthroughs of 2014

If 2013 was the year of hope and change, 2014 will be remembered as the year of the high-energy planet. The “small is beautiful” ethos crumbled as global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions grew faster than ever in recent years, despite the financial crisis, a global recession, and fears of “secular stagnation in the West.  

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Natural Gas

Today the United States is moving from coal to natural gas thanks to government-supported technological breakthroughs known as the shale gas revolution. This move from dirtier coal to cleaner gas is as historic as the move from wood to coal. This publicly-funded technological effort is the model for accelerating decarbonization to deal with global warming.

PUBLICATIONS

 


 

ANALYSIS AND OPINION


FAQ on Natural Gas

The History of the Shale Revolution

Historic Paths to Decarbonization

Debunking Rhodium Group

Gas Crushes Coal


BREAKTHROUGH IN THE NEWS
 



Eduardo Porter, "Federal Role in Recent Drop in Oil Prices," January 20, 2015


Jeremy Carl, "Why New York is Wrong About Fracking," December 20, 2014


Christopher Colford, "The Partnership that Spurred an Energy Revolution," October 23, 2014


Tim McDonnell, "This New Study Explains Why Fracking Won't Solve Climate Change," October 15, 2014


Walter Russell Mead, "Your Questions About the Shale Boom Answered," October 5, 2014


Jim Manzi, "Energy in the Executive," June 4, 2014


Jim Manzi, "The New American System," April 2014


Ken Silverstein, "New Data Shows Carbon Emissions Falling as Shale Gas Debate Is Rising," October 23, 2013


Staff, "The Striking Challenge of Fracking: Who Does It Benefit and Who Gets Hurt," October 2, 2013


Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, "Can Climate Skeptics Save the Planet?" September 27, 2013


Christopher Colford, "Innovator-in-Chief: The Public Sector," September 3, 2013


Martin Wolf, "A Much-maligned Engine of Innovation," August 5, 2013


Clyde Prestowitz, "Thank Washington for Shale Gas and Oil," August 1, 2013
 


Andrew Revkin, "The Silent Partner Behind the Shale Energy Boom -- Taxpayers," July 31, 2013
 


Max Luke and Alex Trembath, "The Bridge to Zero Carbon," July 25, 2013
 


Walter Russell Mead, "Shale Gas is Fracking Green," July 6, 2013
 


Ken Silverstein, "Does Shale Gas Production Alter Equation for Climate Change?" May 5, 2013
 


Russell Gold, "Rise in U.S. Gas Production Fuels Unexpected Plunge in Emissions," April 18, 2013
 


David Leonhardt, "It's Not Easy Being Green," February 10, 2013
 


Brad Plumer, "Natural gas isn’t the only reason U.S. carbon emissions are falling," February 15, 2013
 


Kevin Begos, "Fracking Developed With Decades of Government Invesment," September 26, 2012
 


Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, "A boom in shale gas? Credit the feds," December 7, 2011